How to Tadabbur the Quran

Unlocking the Keys to Tadabbur: Mastering the Art of Deep Reflection on the Timeless and Everlasting Quran
by Ustazah Nur Hidayah Azman 2024-03-27 • 18 min read
Ustazah Hidayah graduated with Bachelor of Usuluddin (Al-Quran and Al-Hadith) from University of Malaya. She is Chief Creative Officer at BY.HIFA, co-Founder of Sparkreativ, co-Founder of Better Than Yesterday and Senior Editor of AskHadith.Sg.
2024-03-27 • 18 min read

How can the Quran, revealed over fourteen centuries ago, continue to provide relevant knowledge and guidance to its readers in today’s fast-paced and ever-evolving world? Imagine what life would look like for the individual when the richness of its content and the timelessness of its wisdom are absorbed through purposeful and mindful tadabbur

Allah s.w.t. describes in the Quran, 

شَهۡرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِىۡٓ اُنۡزِلَ فِيۡهِ الۡقُرۡاٰنُ هُدًى لِّلنَّاسِ وَ بَيِّنٰتٍ مِّنَ الۡهُدٰى وَالۡفُرۡقَانِ

“The month of Ramadan (is that) in which was revealed the Quran, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion…” 

(Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:185) 

Children Tadabbur Quran together

Like a timeless beacon in a world where information is abundant, but wisdom is scarce, the Quran never fails to offer profound insights and guidance to its readers. Its capacity to address the diverse needs of individuals and societies across different time is one of the many factors that prove the Quran was Divinely revealed and not written by humankind

Read: The History of The Quran: Nuzul Quran 

The Quran is the words of Allah s.w.t. While it was revealed to Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. throughout his 23 years of prophethood, the Quran transcends the boundaries of time and space. Its verses remain relevant and applicable in the face of contemporary issues and the challenges that humanity continues to experience. Moreover, it is a reservoir of knowledge that captivates scholars and linguists through the Quran’s linguistic and literary perfection. 

Read: The Quran: Our Ultimate Source of Guidance 

Inevitably, when the individual and seekers alike delve into its verses through tadabbur, they will discover a treasure trove of timeless wisdom that enriches their lives. Furthermore, it lights their paths toward spiritual fulfilment and moral excellence. But what is tadabbur

Definition of Tadabbur 

Tadabbur is a fundamental aspect of engaging with the Quran. It involves mindful efforts to reflect upon the meanings of its verses, its implications and the lessons conveyed. 

Allah s.w.t. beautifully elaborates in the Quran, 

كِتَٰبٌ أَنزَلۡنَٰهُ إِلَيۡكَ مُبَٰرَك لِّيَدَّبَّرُوٓاْ ءَايَٰتِهِۦ وَلِيَتَذَكَّرَ أُوْلُواْ ٱلۡأَلۡبَٰبِ

“(This is) a blessed Book which We have revealed to you, (O Muhammad), that they might reflect upon its verses and that those of understanding would be reminded.” 

(Surah Sad, 38:29) 

Tadabbur, often understood as the contemplation of the Quran, goes beyond mere recitation. The act of tadabbur brings the individual to delve deeper into the layers of its meanings and wisdom contained within the verses. Its key components include understanding, reflection, application, spiritual connection, and a continuous process.  

It is interesting to note that the term tadabbur comes from the Arabic root word dabbara, which means the back or bottom of something. In other words, it describes the reader finding the underlying cause of the matter. In this case, the bottom of the Quran, to discover the greater messages and deeper meanings to the verses revealed. This can only be achieved through a mindful approach. 

How to Tadabbur The Holy Quran

In Sahih Muslim, Hudhayfah ibn Al-Yaman reported that he spent a long night praying with the Prophet s.a.w. He described the recitation of the Prophet s.a.w. as follows: 

يَقْرَأُ مُتَرَسِّلًا إِذَا مَرَّ بِآيَةٍ فِيهَا تَسْبِيحٌ سَبَّحَ وَإِذَا مَرَّ بِسُؤَالٍ سَأَلَ وَإِذَا مَرَّ بِتَعَوُّذٍ تَعَوَّذَ 

“He reads deliberately. And whenever he recited verses pertaining to the glory (of Allah s.w.t.), he would glorify Him. And whenever he recited verses (involving grace) that warranted supplication, he would supplicate. And whenever he recited verses (involving fear) that warranted seeking refuge, he sought refuge (with Allah s.w.t.).” 

(Sahih Muslim) 

This deliberate manner and approach of the Prophet s.a.w. reflects tadabbur and reverence for the words being recited. It indicates a mindful engagement with the message from Allah s.w.t, allowing space for reflection and absorption of its meaning. MasyaAllah, truly the Prophet s.a.w. demonstrates best what tadabbur is all about! 

Significance of Tadabbur 

Beyond the Quran’s surface is a significant depth waiting to be explored through tadabbur. This includes its multifaceted role in shaping the moral fabric of society, igniting intellectual curiosity, and offering profound solace to the hearts of its readers. 

Here are some significance and benefits of tadabbur

(i) Nurture Moral and Ethical Framework for Daily Life 

The Quran, through tadabbur, unveils a rich tapestry of moral and ethical principles that serve as guiding lights through life. With every attempt of tadabbur, the individual will glean insights into matters pertaining to compassion, honesty, justice and integrity. Not only is the Quran a Divine revelation, but it is also every person’s practical guide for navigating the complexities of societal challenges and interactions. 

Allah s.w.t. attests to Muslims; the community that embraces the revelation of the Quran, 

كُنتُمۡ خَيۡرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخۡرِجَتۡ لِلنَّاسِ تَأۡمُرُونَ بِٱلۡمَعۡرُوفِ وَتَنۡهَوۡنَ عَنِ ٱلۡمُنكَرِ وَتُؤۡمِنُونَ بِٱللَّهِ 

“You are the best nation produced (as an example) for humankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah…” 

(Surah Ali-’Imran, 3:110) 

Tadabbur enables the individual to internalise these principles and thus embody them in thought, actions, and even relationships. With the efforts put into tadabbur, it empowers the reader individually and collectively as a society toward much virtue and righteousness. 

(ii) Offers Intellectual Stimulation and Enhancement 

Beyond its spiritual significance, the Quran offers its readers a repository of knowledge and wisdom that beckons to engage in intellectual inquiry and exploration. Tadabbur stimulates the mind, encouraging critical thinking, analysis and interpretation. 

Many areas of knowledge have been discovered through the countless intellectual attempts of our past scholars with the verses of the Quran. Its layers of meaning, historical context, linguistic nuances, and profound insights add on to the depths of the rightful exploration of the Quran. 

Read: 4 Muslims Who Made Amazing Discoveries During the Islamic Golden Age 

Allah s.w.t. mentions in Surah ar-Ra’d, 

وَهُوَ ٱلَّذِي مَدَّ ٱلۡأَرۡضَ وَجَعَلَ فِيهَا رَوَٰسِيَ وَأَنۡهَٰرٗاۖ وَمِن كُلِّ ٱلثَّمَرَٰتِ جَعَلَ فِيهَا زَوۡجَيۡنِ ٱثۡنَيۡنِۖ يُغۡشِي ٱلَّيۡلَ ٱلنَّهَارَۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَأٓيَٰتٖ لِّقَوۡمٖ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ 

“And it is He who spread the earth and placed therein firmly set mountains and rivers; and from all of the fruits He made therein two mates; He causes the night to cover the day. Indeed, in that are signs for a people who give thought.” 

(Surah Ar-Ra’d, 13:3) 

Tadabbur enables the individual to embark on a journey of intellectual discovery, deepening the individual’s understanding of Divine truths and expanding their cognitive horizons to their fullest potential. It fosters a lifelong pursuit of knowledge and wisdom, enriching the intellect and nurturing a vibrant intellectual culture within the community. 

Read: Preserving the Intellect in the Digital Age: Challenges and Recommendations 

Muslimah reading the quran through tadabbur

(iii) Provides Needed Healing and Great Solace 

Tadabbur enables the individual to find solace in the Divine assurance that they are not alone in their struggles and that every hardship is a test of faith. It instils a sense of contentment, peace, and spiritual tranquility. Moreover, it enables its readers to navigate life’s challenges with courage, faith, sincerity, and steadfastness. 

For instance, Allah s.w.t. mentions in the following verse,  

وَنُنَزِّلُ مِنَ ٱلۡقُرۡءَانِ مَا هُوَ شِفَآء وَرَحۡمَة لِّلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَ وَلَا يَزِيدُ ٱلظَّـٰلِمِينَ إِلَّا خَسَارٗا 

“And We send down of the Quran that which is healing and mercy for the believers, but it does not increase the wrongdoers in loss.” 

(Surah Al-Isra’, 17:82) 

This profound verse encapsulates the transformative power of the Quran when approached with faith and much sincerity. Through tadabbur, the individual can unlock the healing aspects of the Quran — which soothes hearts, elevates worries, and provides solace in times of adversity.  

Not only does it address physical ailments, the Quran, in many ways, through the mercy of Allah s.w.t, serves as a spiritual remedy and maladies for the soul. This guidance and reassurance are gifted to the reader when its verses are contemplated and reflected upon. 

Read: 5 Benefits of Reciting the Quran 

How to Tadabbur 

While the practice of tadabbur may vary from individual to individual, the key objective remains consistent — to foster a deep connection with the remembrance of Allah s.w.t and His message. It is crucial to recognise that tadabbur is not a rushed process. Rather, it requires patience, dedication and mindfulness. 

In the Muwatta1 of Imam Malik, Yahya ibn Sa’id reported that a man came to Zayd ibn Thabit r.a. asking questions pertaining to the Quran. He asked, “How do you view reciting the Quran in seven days?.” Zayd ibn Thabit r.a. said, “That is good, but to recite it in half a month or ten days is more beloved to me. Ask me why that is.” The man said, “Indeed I ask you.” Zayd ibn Thabit responded, “That I reflect upon it and pause over it.” 

Here are 10 actionable steps that can help guide readers through the journey of tadabbur

Step 1: Set Intentions 

Begin by purifying intentions and seeking sincerity in the pursuit of understanding and reflecting upon the Quran. Approach tadabbur of the Quran with humility, an open heart and an earnest desire to draw closer to Allah s.w.t. and gain guidance from His words. 

Step 2: Select a Passage 

Choose a specific surah (chapter) or verse from the Quran that resonates or addresses a particular question intended for reflection. Consider starting with what is shorter and slowly progressing to longer and more extensive ones. 

Step 3: Begin to Recite 

Read and recite what has been chosen attentively. Focus on its words, translations, meanings and implications. Notice the beauty of its structure and the letters chosen to form the verses. Recite slowly and allow the rhythm of the words recited to captivate your heart and mind. 

Step 4: Understand the Context 

It is important to read up on tafsir (Quran exegesis), like the work of Ibn Kathir to gain an understanding of the context in which the verse was revealed. Consider the historical background, circumstances, and events that took place during its revelation. Understanding the context will provide valuable insights into the intended messages and meanings. 

Explore: Tafsir Presentations by Former Mufti Ustaz Fatris Bakaram 

Step 5: Reflect on the Meaning 

Take the time to reflect deeply on the lessons and wisdom conveyed through the verses. Consider its implications in life, beliefs, actions, and relationships. Ponder over its essence, guidance, and learning points contained within the verse and how they resonate with personal experiences and aspirations. 

Step 6: Start Asking Questions 

Get curious! Ask questions like, ‘What is the verse teaching about Allah’s attributes?,’ ‘What about His guidance and the nature of faith?,’ ‘How can the lessons derived be applied in life?’ and seek to answer them. Engaging in critical inquiry, stemming from sincere intentions, can deepen understanding of the verses. 

Step 7: Seek Guidance From Asatizah 

As much as the reflection journey is a personal one, it is pertinent to consult credible Asatizah according to their areas of expertise. This can provide further clarification and interpretation of the verse. Seeking guidance and consultation will also ensure what has been reflected remains guided towards the remembrance of Allah s.w.t. 

Step 8: Internalise and Apply 

By internalising the lessons and insights gained from the verses, it opens doors to embody its teachings and messages. This empowers thought, belief, attitude and action. Consider exploring practical ways to apply the guidance of the Quran to daily life, including decision-making processes and efforts to strengthen relationships. 

Step 9: Continue to Practice 

Ensure to make tadabbur a regular and consistent practice. Set aside time each day dedicated to reflection and contemplation of the Quran. Continual practice, although little but consistent, will deepen the spiritual connection and enhance appreciation of the verses over time. 

Step 10: Conclude With Supplication and Gratitude 

Remember to conclude the tadabbur sessions with supplications, asking Allah s.w.t. for His blessings, forgiveness, guidance and pleasure. In addition, express gratitude for every humbling opportunity to engage with His words and embrace enlightenment from the timeless revelation. 

How to tadabbur the quran


In Hilyat Al-Awliya2, Abu Maryam ibn As-Salt reported some words of wisdom from Imam Al-Hasan Al-Basri. He said,  

إِنَّ أَهْلَ الْعَقْلِ لَمْ يَزَالُوا يَعُودُونَ بِالذِّكْرِ عَلَى الْفِكْرِ وَبِالْفِكْرِ عَلَى الذِّكْرِ حَتَّى اسْتَيْقَظَتْ قُلُوبُهُمْ فَنَطَقَتْ بِالْحِكْمَةِ 

“Verily, the people of understanding continue to alternate from remembrance to reflection, and reflection to remembrance, until their hearts awaken and speak with wisdom.” 

This is the transformative journey with the Quran that is worth pursuing. It entails embracing every encounter with the words of Allah s.w.t, through recitation and tadabbur, as a profound awakening for the heart. Each engagement with the Quran continues to unfold a myriad of wisdom, a plethora of knowledge, an abundance of guidance and hand-holding the individual through life’s journey in the pursuit of Allah s.w.t. 

O Allah, make the Quran the spring of our hearts, the light of our chests, the banisher of our sadness and the reliever of our distress. O Allah, make tadabbur an integral part of our lives that we can never live without. Allahumma amin. 

Read: How to Learn to Read Quran 



1The Muwatta’ is Imam Malik’s book of hadith compilations. Imam Malik, who is also the great jurist and founder of the Maliki Mazhab, argues his positions in Islamic Law through his Muwatta’. Read: The 4 Mazhabs in Islam

2One of the early works on spirituality - Sufism by Abu Nu’aim Al-Isfahani. Also read: Spirituality in Islam


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